* At the same time:
- A LOT of companies are uncomfortable making some of this data SaaS / external. I'm not saying they're right, but it's there
- A LOT of companies are unique, or strongly believe they're unique, and that they need bespoke / highly customized software. I'm not saying they're right... ;)
- I'm a techie, so it's taken me a decade to realize that implementing a new backoffice suite by a consulting company is one third or less technical / IT project; and two thirds or more business process / transformation project. And the actual success / failure of these projects is almost entirely guided by the business transformation part.
And when a company views ERP as a technical/IT project, it is most likely to not end well (small scale example: Sally in accounting refuses to change and insists that the new fancy software, on-prem or SaaS, do things the way she's done them for 2 decades in Excel, because that's "how their company does it"... no matter how inefficient or outdated they are. If you're seen as an IT project, it's your duty to accommodate Sally and now you're building the same thing over and over, compromising any value in your new ERP, SaaS or otherwise. If you're seen as business transformation project, you have some chance to make a difference and make things better...]
- Therefore SaaS would reduce FAR less effort in ERP than many techies (including myself) feel. Basically, you'd still have a consulting company come in to (try) to do business transformation so your internal processes actually accept and match the SaaS processes; build interfaces; and then maintain and support.
Disclosure/example: I'm in consulting part of IBM, and while I'm currently on a legacy ERP project, my colleagues in "Cloud/SaaS" (i.e. "let somebody else host it for you") side are no less busy than before. Mind you, they are on average providing higher value services, so that's a plus :)
This 1000%. There's so much institutional friction with these projects for so many reasons; some of them political, some of them interpersonal, some of them just because someone doesn't want to. So many of these projects fail because people just don't want to work towards the goal, or simply do as little as possible and things move slower than molasses.
People don't want or care to change their processes. They do things that way because they've always done things that way. They see tools not as a way to get more done or be efficient, but as something that's "moving their cheese" and they don't like it. It doesn't matter how overworked they are by remedial tasks that could be automated, until you show them everything finished, end-to-end, working flawlessly, they won't be interested in the slightest.
The sad thing is that if there were some strong executive leadership behind these projects and they saw it as a positive thing, there could be better traction and better results. Instead, most execs look at these projects as mundane details and hand them off to whatever sad middle manager is going to take the heat for the project going south. The result is no teeth behind the initiative which even further exacerbates the issue of people not caring or lifting a finger.
In all fairness, this perception of tools is often entirely rational. Changing workflows incurs a high cost, and any new tool must supply a benefit in excess of that cost. If it doesn't, then opposing the new tool can be the correct stance. And in my experience, at least half of the time, the new tools do not provide sufficient benefit.
Some of tools make claims that, if trivial to implement, would provide huge huge benefits. Unfortunately, there's a cost to learning a new tool, and then to implementing its use. Since you don't know the tool yet, you can only make educated guesses as to whether it will be easy or hard to learn, easy or hard to implement, make your process better or worse, help sell your product or make you more efficient, etc. You can't know for sure (unless it seems so much like something you already DO understand, and in that case, why would you use someone else's tool)? And that's only for yourself.
I'm not saying you shouldn't try new tools. To the contrary. It's just hard to know which ones are the right ones for your organization. Hence cargo-culting of tools that may or may not be a step backwards for your organization, or have all kinds of hidden-costs that are difficult or even impossible to foresee.
Will they be paid more for the increase in productivity?
I then began to notice this pattern in other people. If you give them efficient software they wont be able to bullshit their way out of any argument. Productivity is the enemy. Everything possible must be done to prevent the people above from figuring out what is really going on.
One very simple example I ran into recently. A new and improved app was made but it had exactly the same flaws as the previous one. An amount of time is assigned to tasks but if you add up the tasks for a day they greatly exceed the real world number of minutes worked. Then when complaints come in they simply assign extra minutes to the task pushing the total amount of work further over 8 hours. The number of characters for feedback was also reduced. When I jokingly asked about it (knowing how their game works) they pretended it was to hard to divide the work over the day. You cant just say a 70 min task must be done in 50! All hell would break loose! It is then left up to the assignee to figure out how to cut the corners. The managers carefully monitor the feedback, if anyone finds out corners are cut the employee is called in to explain for it. Eventually the smart ones figure out how to cut corners without anyone noticing it.
The entire show depends on the clients inability to add up all the minutes.
 - https://www.w3.org/PICS/services-960303.html
SaaS can be on-premises.
> Sally in accounting refuses to change
The tools need to adapt to the user, the user shouldn't need to adapt to the tool. That said, if there are obvious efficiency gains (e.g. you can stop typing "COMPLETED" three hundred times a day and just click a button that fills the field for you; even better, the process marks it 'completed' once all the human verification has taken place) and the user is stubborn, well, maybe the tool should offer the efficient solution, allow the inefficient behavior, and log metrics on the whole thing. Management might take interest.
True; the distinction between SaaS and COTS becomes moot in practical terms then, and all of my comment still applies.
>>The tools need to adapt to the user, the user shouldn't need to adapt to the tool.
- True for an IT project whose goal is to support whatever the user is currently doing (and what many of us are trained to do / think in current IT paradigm).
- Not True for a business transformation project whose goal is to change business processes for the better - and, basically incidentally, deliver a COTS ERP to support them through an IT portion of the project.
We are not talking about where the button is or how many times it takes to click or what the icon looks like. We are talking fundamental business processes and workflow, which are core to how a business operates internally.
For business processes which are company's core business, presumably they have them figured out. That's great, and IT should support them.
For back-office ERP, this is not your company's core business; you're probably not a special snowflake; and the market's average/best practices are likely miles ahead of your legacy over-complicated business processes. YOU need to change if you want to reap the benefits of shiny expensive new software.
There is extremely limited point in implementing a new back-office ERP (HR, Financials, CRM, EPM, etc) if you're not willing to approach it as BT project; radically change how you do things; and expect a shiny new tool to make you more competitive automagically without your processes and maybe even culture/habits changing.
My fundamental point remains: what the big consulting companies do with ERP / backoffice implementation (when done right) are primarily BT projects, and incidentally involve IT implementations; and treating them as IT projects, whether that's Sally in accounting refusing to change or Bob the developer accommodating Sally thinking it's the right thing to do, will cause them to fail.
(generalizations and oversimplifications abound in above statement; but it really takes a very very large and repeated application of a mental sledgehammer to dislodge some universally-good but specifically-counterproductive ideas and habits from the ERP space)
A couple of people at the time were really unhappy about the change because there were some differences, at least at the time, in the ability to create nested folders/labels like they were accustomed to doing in Exchange. Basically, Gmail messed up the organizational scheme they were accustomed to for client and contracts.
They were basically told to deal with it but the point is that even when going to some standard SaaS makes sense, people are very resistant to making changes in their standard tools.
No matter how much buy-in you get, people can be unreasonable about making any accommodation for change.
(Note, FWIW, though I think we're on the same page - the "business processes" I'm talking about in relation to ERP are less interface/program-mechanic based, and more along the lines of "Who is authorized/must approve" "How do we run accounting" "What is our procurement workflow" "How do you calculate taxes" etc)
Doesn't always work especially if I don't remember quite what I'm looking for. But it's overall a reasonable tradeoff compared to filing a bunch of stuff, most of which I'll never look at again. It is a shift in mindset though.
I like to get emails out of my inbox as soon as I don't need them anymore (so my inbox always only contains the email that still requires my attention). But I don't do any sort of serious categorization/tagging/etc. -- the cost/benefit to doing that far too high.
Instead, I have a folder for each entity that I exchange emails with, and move the emails into the appropriate folder when I'm done with them, with no further categorization.
"one-off" emails (marketing, registration, etc.) just get deleted.
It's at least 50% sales.
By time spent? Not on anything but the tiniest projects which are likely to be loss-leaders anyway.
By value added? For consulting company, sure, that's one way to look at it; for the customer, probably not :P
For the purposes of my post, pre-sales/sales/RFP/whatever were assumed to be done prior to start of implementation.
Though I will agree that how ERP project is pitched/sold may well have an impact on the delivery:
- the IT vs BT categorization per above is likely implicitly or explicitly setup at these early stages
- who the stakeholders/champions are / who signed off on purchase and why - the CIO because their previous product is EOL? The VP of functional department (HR/Finance/etc) because they want to realize value in changing processes? Etc
- are the timelines and deliverables reasonable
- is the goal / value realized / ROI well defined and agreed
- are the requirements and scope well defined and agreed
(edited to change nested brackets into bullet points :P )
Later on, back on the selling side, I now appreciate that "qualifying out" opportunities is definitely a critical activity otherwise you well spend huge amounts of money chasing stuff that you probably won't win or, worse, win and make a loss on.
I would love to see the spreadsheet reinvented to be a) collaboration-oriented, and b) a good on-ramp to ever-growing programming skills. So that when Bob in the next department over makes that crucial internal spreadsheet, you can safely and usefully interact with it from your crucial internal spreadsheet. Basically, to make every spreadsheet a potential microservice.
I've spent some years failing to figure out how to make that work. So if anybody manages, please let me know.
I always envisioned something that functioned like a Jupyter notebook, and pulled some pages from the MatLab debugger tool ...kind of like how Light Table implemented them, but don't get too caught up in that analogy. That way, you could create and define tables that are stand alone objects, and run [code] operations on data in those objects to create new tables. Everything that is processed from the tables is it's own [new object] entity, and can be [output or not] viewed or hidden. It would move away from the idea of having few tabs of large continuous spreadsheets in favor of having many small tables [matrices] that would have identifiers [variable names]. And if the user really wanted, they could drag around tables on a spreadsheet like grid, but the data in those tables would not be editable in that view. Oh, and graphs are their own entity too. Users can use a GUI editor to make graphs, but the graph properties will be user accessible in some sort of markup language for the edge case where the user needs to make a ton of graphs, and then needs to make some styling change to every graph. Not something I've ever experienced though... \s
1. Reduce the need for Excel's reference gymnastics that are performed when you move or insert rows/columns in to referenced data.
2. reduce the headache that is excel formulas. Since each object will be a formula instead of every cell. Also, the formulas don't have to be a single line, so it will be more readable.
The trick is finding a good language to use - Julia maybe? and designing a good GUI for helping non programmers do useful things like accessing and referencing data from objects in an intuitive way. This could be where the traditional spreadsheet view could come in handy. I like how you mentioned that it needs to serve as a good on ramp for ever growing programming skills, because it needs to be intuitive enough that non programmers can understand the basics and accomplish something useful, but powerful and hackable enough that the mental models can transfer.
You're very right that choosing the right language is important. As much as I love the languages I know, most of them are incredibly fiddly. E.g., things like dealing with "if a=b" are fine for those of us steeped in the mysteries, but a nightmare for more casual users. I'll have to check Julia out. Thanks for mentioning it!
E.g., in an OO language, I can be very clear about what a MailingAddress is. I can say what makes it well-formed. I can give rules about how it can be changed, and what happens when it does change.
But in a spreadsheet, that concept is mostly implicit. A human can look at it and say, "Oh, the mailing address is columns C-G, starting at row 2 and down to just before the first blank line." Until somebody edits the spreadsheet and inserts a phone number column, anyhow.
That means a Google Sheet can't really serve as a reliable microservice that knows about all the customer addresses, letting one's colleague's sheets read and update things. Sheet authors have all the necessary domain knowledge, but not enough of the technical knowledge, so at some point they have to bring in a professional programmer to re-express the domain knowledge in a language inaccessible to the people who formerly had control over their data and business processes.
No VBA, no keyboard shortcuts, (no cross-workbook references).
Imho two people working inside the same worksheet at the same time was never an Excel's missing feature.
I got an F.
Splunk is a good example of this. I've worked at several public and private muti-billion dollar orgs, and they all rant and rave about how good Splunk is over whatever else they were using.
So, build more splunks. Maybe something that aggregates monitoring multiple servers. A plug and play Status Dashboard for a company's internal apps. Like this: https://www.google.com/appsstatus#hl=en&v=status
Which potential security threat do you want to eliminate to reduce the splunk bill?
I worked on many CRUD apps that had say 4 different groups of users. We made a library / system for determining what "level" a user is, based on what Active Directory roles the user is assigned. In the application, you can show or hide components based on this level. Making some sort of middle-ware that abstracts things for developers, so they don't have to think about things like AD, is a huge area of opportunity.
So what proxy method would you use to determine that Fortune 2000 companies are spending twice as much on Splunk as they do on New Relic (for instance)?
But similarly, I’ve found it convenient for all my other 2FA needs from GitHub to RuneScape. So even then, it has value to consumers.
So for example, if you would pen an email/slack talking about a slide deck from a recent meeting, in the widget the product would have already found the deck ready for you to drag and drop it into the message.
It worked freakishly good, and saved a whole bunch of time trying to find a file in the mess that everyones Google Drive becomes.
The problem they were having was no enterprise wanted to hand over an entire copy of their data for them to index.
Using AWS for example all it takes is a misconfigured bucket to expose massive amounts of customer data.
Like your enterprises, no hospital (or equiv) would consider exfiltrating their data.
So our gear was physically deployed and operated on each hospital's own system. Our marketing and sales goons called this our "federated data model", which had no tangible connection to reality.
I likened the experience to building model ships in a bottle, while wearing mittens, while someone is punching you in the face. To mitigate, we created what would now be called CI/CD pipelines. We managed 100s of deployments with near zero downtime and effortless rollbacks. I'm rueful just thinking about it.
This strategy didn't survive the 2008 economic crash.
The challenge is the same as the main topic of this thread- change management. You have to force employees to manage their documents exclusively within this system rather than dumping everything into shared drives and using Outlook attachments for everything.
 One example: https://www.alfresco.com/ecm-software/document-management
That sounds like a reasonable response. At least, I know that would be a showstopper for me, personally.
The RPC consultants, often titled AI / ML consultants, make money hand over fist traveling from site to site and implementing some automatic procedures.
Same with chat bots. The past 2-3 years there's been an explosion in demand for chat bots, and these often take entire teams to implement and train. Again, lots of bespoke products.
Who gets these gigs largely depends on networking and sales. The big companies (Accenture, etc.) are rolling in this, since they also have a good picture of company software from previous projects.
The accounting industry is also desperate to get in on the ML revolution. I've lost count on how many times I've been contacted by recruiters in that space, who want magic ML pixie dust.
The market is there, but it can be difficult to break into as an outsider, or smaller player - if you're planning in building some one-size fits all product. Best plan, IMO, would be to focus on some niche part of the process, and become the best at just that - and then pitch to the big companies that deal with actual F500 clients.
There are of course exceptions, but a 5 man startup vs Accenture offering the same base product, Accenture is gonna walk away with the gig 99 out of 100 times.
(But with that said, a lot of the startups that focus on these spaces, seem to be ex-consultants from said big consulting firms. Logical enough, as they have both seen the problems first hand, and built networks within the industry.)
I noticed that since I worked at the RPA team of my current employer. :-)
This is basically asking for a market gap in a potentially very profitable market. That's silly, everybody wants that.
A lot of ERP systems move away from well-trodden programming tools to their own custom stuff. I know of ERP systems have their own source control version control systems. Why? They're often awful to use. The programmers that use them are often business-focused haven't really used stuff outside that ecosystem. So they don't know how bad it is.
Most ERP implementations i've come across make little use of automated testing as well.
I did some work for a place where, they embedded groovy as their 'write custom rules stuff from the UI' language - that was at least easier to reason about, and to debug/test offline (not automated, but somewhat easier than a DSL that only runs inside the system).
There is always this exception that makes a SaaS ERP not fit for a company.
Hoping to get a white paper or at least a one-two pager in the next few weeks.
Shameless plug, follow here for updates if this sort of stuff interests you: https://hipspec.com/
Just curious if the OP wants this so he can build a product FROM this data, or if he just wants this data as a product, alone.
Why would a Fortune 500 give up such information, which is pretty much how they make money.
Also, if they did map out any tasks that could be automated, they would automate them themselves.
Good idea, but not a product.
25 might even be too high (or potentially too low; the number is arbitrary), but the general idea is that in your life there are only a handful of people who you should really care to keep tabs on. You can "friend" more than 25 people but you can only see the activity of 25 of your friends and the others are relegated to essentially being contacts.
I remember about two years ago Facebook was getting into a lot of trouble due to the amount of negative mental impact it had/has on its users and they did a study which found social media can have a negative impact on its users unless the user only follows a small circle of real-life friends and interacts with those people online. I don't have a source to this; I'm willing to accept there isn't real _evidence_ behind this claim.
Anyway, I'm surprised social media has been around this long, has been the subject of such controversy and there haven't been any or many real, impactful changes to the nature of it. Facebook and Instagram are, in my opinion, trying to be too much. They want to combine personal and public spaces. This, of course, works from a business perspective. But what are the long-term consequences of these products on our mental health and society?
We need a new social media focused on personal, tight-knit groups of people and interests. One that makes this the focus and doesn't stray for the purposes of profits. And, if that's not feasible in an economy that demands growth, we need better legislation demanding certain consumer protections are created for this sphere of products.
Some of those friends didn't realize it was a game.
An ex-Googler (that never played defense!) tried that with the social network Path. I think the limit was 50 friends though. It failed.
Edit:  Quote attribution: "I don’t use a ring of any kind on my phone. This is so that I am always on offense and never defense." - Dave Morin
Looking back, Friendster strikes me as the single biggest missed opportunity of that decade. He had a two-year lead on Facebook. In a network-effect business! But through careful focus and diligent effort, he managed to blow it.
Group chat: text/Messages/WhatsApp. The fewer frills, the better.
I don't consider myself an extreme socialite, but as someone who has lived in 3 states in the US and whose friends are scattered around the world after getting a degree here, this sounds really, really, really perverse.
That said, most of my use of Facebook is not to keep tabs on the people I care about (a lot of them don't use Facebook much, if at all).
The product that the OP described already exists: it's called a chat room (IRC channel, Skype group chat, Telegram channel, Whatsapp group chat, etc).
I wish that a "social" network would bring back the idea of Circles.
It takes some time to mute everyone I want muted, but it only took a couple days to mute the more post-happy folks. I discovered that most of my network hardly post.
Instagram is so much more enjoyable now. 2 minutes a day, rarely more.
Many, many have tried.
One important thing to note is that it will be monetized through a subscription, not by selling consumer data or driving sales of targeted ads.
Check it out @ https://get.thread-app.com/
Almost similar to where each user is a subreddit and you create a multireddit.
This needs to be baked-in to have any real impact.
I don't think that Facebook will be replaced with something so similar. I think what we need is an open data-platform that can contain (in a controlled way) social media data along with other kinds of data and then allow building social media apps on top of it. Otherwise we'll always be stuck using whatever the biggest supplier builds for us.
I would be interested in a parliament-like protocol for discussion, structured debate and reaching consensus.
We currently have tools for proposing changes to text documents (such as pull requests) which could be applied to a community rules/laws or values system, but we don't have anything that can debate the changes, log objections, track resolutions and compromises in a structured way.
I've seen places where community decision making is emergent (e.g. autobans when a users reputation drops below a certain threshold or votekick in games) but nothing that formalises the process, allows review of results, links decisions to overarching principles (or notes where a principle has not been followed due to circumstances).
It would help guide people into arguing more fruitfully and better digesting what they read.
Ultimately everyone should be able to agree on the data, the model and the evaluation separately. The differences should boil down to differences in personal assumptions (different Bayesian apriori distributions, eg. different morals, worldview, thresholds for things, etc.)
This should lead to questions about stuff that is either subjective and thus people can agree to disagree, or to simpler objective problems. (For example that data collection methodology leads to higher uncertainty than claimed, hence the whole argument becomes inconclusive.)
AirTable has made huge inroads here. I'm also building something in this area (https://lightsheets.app/), turning slightly back towards spreadsheets instead of databases but then building enhancements and modern integrations on top. I think there's still lots of potential in this area, despite spreadsheets being 50 years old.
But it's not a great alternative to a DB. It's really expensive per seat (twice the cost of Google Apps and you only get one app). The row limits on tables are too low. And I'd really like native webhook support to ingest row updates.
I'd be very interested an Airtable clone that I can run locally on-top of Postgres or Mongo or something like that. My main use-case would be to replace expensive-to-build internal CRUD apps that really should just be spreadsheets but require bespoke integrations with other internal systems.
I've started working on a similar platform where the goal is to make building CRUD apps wildly simple. The plan going forward will be to layer on more sophistication after the core foundation is extremely solid.
The platform uses Mongo for the dynamic data tables which is a game changer for tools like this. Postgres jsonb data would also work, but Mongo just feels more natural to me.
I've named the platform Webase. Check it out here: https://www.webase.com
Note: this is very basic currently but consistently getting better!
> You have not created any apps yet.
with no way to create an app that I can see
> Granular permissions not only at row level but field level too. You can share parts of data with others for editing or have it view-only with ability for commenting and accepting suggestions
In my org (and I suspect many), many of the Sales/Operations people maintain Google Sheets with links into our internal apps. Generally it's TODO lists or other little organizational/workflow type stuff
What I think makes Airtable so powerful is that foreign-keys are first class. You can create a table and include references to rows from other tables. This allows the end user to create tables to support their workflows directly in the same tool they use to manage the data, and means I don't have to build that same functionality into the CRUD app (and until you're deep in a workflow it's hard to get it perfect, so there's always back-and-forth).
A good permission system would allow me to create a set of "core tables" that I tightly control the schema of, but allow others to still create tables which reference this one.
Do you have some examples?
We're building a sort of highly linkable (cell level) spreadsheet-type widget builder that is supposed to play nicely with existing workflows (instead of trying to force people to build out entire workflows like many of these new breed of "CRUD-replacer" low-code/no-code apps seem to want us to do). Might interest you!
We have a CRUD app that acts as a CMS with all our product listings in it. There is a team of people who are tasked with curating and maintaining these product listings. So you can go to crud.com/admin/product/<id> and modify the listing, which needs to happen every now and then.
The team of people who maintain these product listings need to coordinate their efforts and so when they need to modify some set of the products they create a spreadsheet with (product_id, link_to_crud.com, Person who is responsible, status). Maybe there's some approval process or multiple statuses or something like that that makes this all a little more custom/complex. Maybe they need to update a few things across services at the same-ish time so there might be a few links per row but it's going to be relatively bounded by what a human can handle.
If our data lived in Airtable, it'd be really easy for this team to make their tables/spreadsheets with direct relations to our core tables (which replace the CRUD app in this case). That team understands their workflows better than I ever will as an engineer. Giving them the power to create their own workflow tools is way better than trying to have engineering build it for them, and that's going to be a huge selling point for me.
I don't think we'd need cell-level links but rather row-level. Right now they use Google sheets, but a more domain-specific tool would be better.
What I'm working on though is more about taking the core of existing spreadsheets and building powerful integrations on top of it. Like in the sibling comments, building a webapp, or something else. I really think this has huge potential.
JS is nice because all you need to write it is a text editor and a web browser, both of which just about all computers have. I had an entry-level job that involved a computer once and automated a lot of the painful stuff with JS - I bet that if more people knew JS, more people would do the same.
I don't know if that'd be a good business proposition, but I think it could be a good on-ramp.
source: I made one myself (and know the founders of others)
Things like Ring, Nextdoor, and Facebook already exist. Nextdoor and Facebook are riddled with inanity, from political rants to dumb jokes to hoaxes to common scams to law enforcement rants.
I don't want more information from my neighbors -- 99% of it is garbage. I want highly-filtered information. Basically, a neighborhood watch but with an aggressive spam filter. Right now I glance at the various neighborhood feeds with one eye closed, sifting through the intense stupidity, trying to capture valuable intelligence.
Of course, all of this may be a dumb corporate-run idea and maybe people should really focus on forming good relationships with their neighbors in meatspace and talk to them in person aka HUMINT.
And it's not just Ring customers that are affected, it's anyone in the general vicinity. If your house is in the field of view of a neighbor's Ring camera, you're being surveilled too.
Defining what is a "reasonable government request" is a valid question, but it's really just not that high of a bar to get a records subpoena/search warrant for video like this. Courts sign off on those routinely, so I don't think you can really expect Ring or any company that holds your records to deny police requests for very long.
The system they have seems pretty balanced. The police look at the ring website to see who has cameras (they could figure that out by walking the neighborhood), they ask for the footage (instead of knocking on the door), they get turned down (or not), they get a warrant, the footage is released. Ring is reducing the overhead of asking somewhat, but they're not enabling mass surveillance or building AI systems that track suspicious people across multiple ring devices.
Is there something I'm missing here? If you record video of your front yard, and the police want to see it, they have a right to, subject to the normal judicial review.
Yes. If Ring had even the barest shred of ethics, they would client-side encrypt the videos stored in their cloud. It would use no extra space. The user would have to explicitly approve the decryption and sharing of videos.
But they don't, because being able to access and datamine those videos is a huge money-maker for them.
Ring is terrible, but their engineers willing to implement this corporate surveillance state? They're the worst. They wield their software skills as a mercenary would a weapon against innocents. I seriously cannot even comprehend how they sleep at night and look at themselves in the mirror in the morning.
At least folks over at Apple are sane and are making sure that HomeKit surveillance videos are client-side encrypted.
The average user can't be trusted to manage client-side encryption keys reliably.
The issue is that Ring's terms specifically allow them to circumvent "normal judicial review" if the request is "reasonable". From the same WaPo article:
> Ring users consent to the company giving recorded video to “law enforcement authorities, government officials and/or third parties” if the company believes it's necessary to comply with “legal process or reasonable government request,” its terms of service state.
I'm fine with the police having access to video after obtaining a warrant or subpoena, even if it's not a particularly high bar to clear. But that should still be the bar. We shouldn't expect Ring to refuse police requests even after being served, but we should expect them to hold out until that point — and unfortunately, we can't trust them to do that.
Are you sure?
How can we as citizens verify it?
I'm not. Do I think it's likely that they are? No.
> How can we as citizens verify it?
The same way we verify that Google isn't producing broad-scale AI systems looking for specific subsets of people across the GMail data. Investigative reporting, whistle-blowers, regulation/lawmaking, and looking closely at the evidence presented when the government acts. This is why parallel construction is pernicious, as it prevents meaningful oversight of government malfeasance.
End-to-end encryption, and user ownership/encryption of data is also great, but it's not widely available, and many use cases don't work when the service provider can't see the data they're storing. Even when the data is encrypted, you can get a lot of valuable intelligence from metadata.
That's hardly sufficient, and especially not with a company like Amazon.
It really looks to me like this is exactly what they're building.
There is a code of practice: the Surveillance Camera Code of Practice (SCCoP). There are also requirements to follow under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA).
The consequences of not following the SCCoP, the GDPR, and the DPA may result in regulatory action being taken against you by the Information Commissioner's Office as well as private legal action by the affected individuals, but it is not per se against the law to film those areas.
The AI will flag the black person himself as often associated with complaints and posts tagged "danger". Thus barring him from job interviews and loans by other automated services (Uber, but for HR!) who bought the data set "to elevate user experience".
Creeping right back to apartheid, but I would say entirely worth it if it means I can get a notification that my cappuccino creamer was stolen 5 minutes ago by an unidentifiable person! /s
It confirms to me that cancelling was the right move for me but it also saddens me that we've gotten ourselves into a state in technology where the business model is to get people riled up and then profit from that discord.
But then how do we filter out the political rants, insanity, dumb jokes, hoaxes, and common scams?
Our city did a traffic survey of a local street that is the primary route for everyone going from surrounding neighborhoods to downtown and found the average speed was ~2 mph over the posted limit, with the 85th percentile at ~5 mph over the speed limit. These are reasonable speed for such a wide road. The city then added several 'safety' features to it, and found in a subsequent survey that the changes actually did little to slow traffic. One feature is a pair of speed bumps. Some drivers slow to about 5 mph to go over the bumps, increasing the risk of rear end accidents. Other drivers veer into the bike lanes to go partially around them without slowing down. Everyone else slows down a reasonable amount, but then subsequently accelerate back up to the speed limit on a block where jaywalking is common. Some of the features they added are, in my opinion, beneficial, like turning a side street into a one way road after frequent accidents from people turning left out of it.
But you can't talk about it on Nextdoor. The second you criticize the speed bumps you'll be ignored (if you're lucky) or attacked. Nuance is not allowed. You're either for all the changes, even the dangerous ones, or you're a crazy speed demon. Meanwhile, if you post about 'the children' who you are afraid for (even though no one has any evidence of a child ever being hurt by a driver on this road), you're going to get upvoted a lot within the first ten minutes.
The city spent months ripping it up and paving it nice and smooth.
Then a couple months later they put up speed bumps.
We spent a lot of money to get back to the speeds people already drove.
Their campaign was successful, in no small measure because a poll of the residents showed 95% of them opposed the repaving, and that the local paper wrote a big story about the whole affair.
In other words, the "nice thing" isn't actually so nice in terms of the things that the people on that street really care about.
Remember that garbage you mentioned. We don't want to deal with other people's garbage in meatspace any more than we do online.
4. ADT 2.0: Digital neighborhood watch.
Ring is gross enough, thank you very much.
Friends I have who live there are thrilled with the system although the Seattle police seem to have little interest in the system telling the residents that they are only interested in seeing footage that shows suspicious activities or is directly related to a crime.
Porch pirates are so bad in my new neighborhood that I admit to wanting one of these on my dead-end culdesac and have investigated what it would take to build such a system myself.
2. Create a backend that queries each camera for their current image.
3. Run the images through some object recognition neural network (fastai has some great object recognition tutorials).
4. Make your backend stitch together the images from each camera to make a video of what was being recognized when objects of interest were detected (each camera will create its own video)
5. Create a nice little UI/App for everyone to view the movies with some filtering in place (time of day, object(s) of interest).
I want to create something like this as well. All of the pieces seem to be pretty straightforward to me except for figuring out power and network connectivity. I guess each neighbor would have to configure the device to use their SSID... and hope someone doesn't steal the raspberry pi and get the SSID credentials from memory... Maybe just make the neighbors use a separate network?
Also at: http://doc.openalpr.com/opensource.html
And a ready-to-go version you can buy/subscribe based on their stuff:
There seems to be four things on here:
- an avon lady over agressively spamming her stuff (blocked)
- people asking for small job recommendations (who should I get to fix my garden gate, babysitter, tv ariel fitting)
- some notices about local events (when / where fireworks, Remembrence, carolling)
- group commiseration that one time some group was speeding all over town at midnight running red lights and keeping us up with their skidding and revving.
Honestly pretty good. I see it maybe once a week.
I wouldn't allow it to do so, so I assume it asked, I said no, and we moved on.
"I saw a suspicious man walking down the street!"
"What made him suspicious?"
"He just doesn't look like he belongs here."
"Being black isn't suspicious"
I then I get an email from Next-door about my comments being reported!
Deleted that cesspool after confirming it was just another fear-inducer service for people who get off on that.
I have a Ring and some of it is just downright funny.
> "suspicious person on my porch, be on the look out!"
>> "um, that's the mailman."
More often it's almost solely profit-driven.
For example, in the 90s a lot of people thought everyone would host their own email servers. In reality, consumers flocked to Y! mail and later Gmail, since most people really can't or won't do this themselves.
Most people also do not change the oil on their own car (at least in the USA) etc.
In my mind the question is can you develop a great product in this area. It is possible (and sad) that Ring or Nest is as good as it gets (or have default won due to superior distribution). But I do think there are a lot of features I would want as a consumer that would make this experience better for me.
Plus, it seems that the new breed of service companies isn't satisfied with just providing a service in exchange of money. They also use the opportunity to exfiltrate as much data about you as they can get.
Also, in case of cable/Netflix, a lot of downsides are mitigated by piracy. There's no worry you'll be cut off from the entertainment you want, because you can always Torrent it if push comes to shove.
Copy/pasting from my landing what it means:
A personal journal and a social network that will provide a quiet space to reflect about yourself and also to nurture your long term relationships with the people that you care about.
Because this social network won't have the frenetic rhythm of news and updates of all other social networks.
A quiet space is just as quiet as the quietest sound. Quid Sentio is being designed so you will only listen to your voice and the voice of your close ones. A digital space to cultivate conversations more meaningful than the loud noise of social media and more long-lasting than the unsearchable small talk of instant messengers.
Quid Sentio is for you if you want to...
Avoid the deafening rumble of the crowds. You will only see public entries from people that have both being included in your list and included you in their list. No stranges following you (or even knowing you have an account).
Avoid the tiresome grumble of the acquaintances. There will be no way to search for people on the site or to see a list of your friends' friends. Also, there will be a limit of people you can add to your list without reciprocity, so no way to spam everyone in your contact list.
Avoid the popularity contests of perfect lives. There will be no way to like entries, only conversations. Also, there will be no way to share content outside of the list of who posted. So no way to go viral and no instant rewards.
Avoid the manipulative tricks of addiction dealers. All the design decisions above already point to a social network with less activity. Adding to that, you won't see any advertising on the site, so there is no incentive to keep you aimless wandering around here. Stay as long as you need to connect with your family, your close friends, and yourself. Then leave.
Avoid the news, the memes, the FOMO. As the posts all follow the same design of journal entries, with no images and no special treatment for external links, you will probably won't see much news or click-baity articles, unless a close friend wants to comment on them. Also, no company accounts either.
If you are interested: https://www.quidsentio.com
Chrome Version 79.0.3945.88 (Official Build) (64-bit)
I am a 3-week vacation right now, away from my development laptop, but I will investigate this bug better and solve it once I'm back
Sadly investors probably care very little from a financial position as to whether a drug works or not, as their exit usually happens somewhere between trials at Phase 1 and Phase 2. Earlier in the longevity market because it is hot.
I've put together Request for Startup lists for the longevity industry for the past few years, based on fairly detailed insight into the state of the science.
Because things move slowly in biotech, just about everything in these documents except for more senolytics is still valid.
As you are as familiar as few people are with the topic, I'd like to ask you for some advice, if possible: What do you think is the best way for someone like me (currently biochem undergrad, with ~7 years broad software engineering experience), to have an impact in the field?
(FWIW, I think that space colonization will only be practical if we develop either FTL or longevity (live to 1000+) and the latter seems way more doable than the former, eh?)
This rule still holds true today. When I talk to people in their 20s and younger these days about Facebook, for instance, the near universal reaction is "Facebook is for old people and companies". They're all using something else.
I've used their API to look at California wildfire data.
If there's a PurpleAir sensor near you, it will show you the reading instantly. It also updates the favicon so you can leave it open in the background and check the reading just by glancing at the tab.
p.s. thanks for that site. Works well with BitBar:
/usr/bin/sudo -u dzhiurgis -i bash -c 'echo -n "AQI "; curl -s https://www.purpleair.com/json\?key\=EAOGA5Q4JOPE8HH7\&show\=17325 | jq -r ".results.PM2_5Value"'
We used to have this and it was called forum (phpbb and such). They have been oblitared and we moved to Facebook apparently leaving our brains behind.
In reality we are victims of armies of psychologists optimizing for engagement.
I have the feeling forums will come back though.
Also, mobile which is not ideal for long conversations helped their demise.
Still, I hope they come back big time.
I miss them.
Also plenty of good forums had ads. I don't think it's a common thing to want to refuse to click on ads because of high quality content, I would guess the opposite tends to be true.
Anyway, it was easy to come back to a specific topic, so it was easier to find good ones.
You could bookmark them, see the number of views/replies or even find them in search engines.
Good content surfaced and survived better, so optimization is probably the wrong word.
* Too new (There are promising upstarts, but they usually don't operate their own entities and it seems risky to route all our IP ownership assignments through a tiny company)
* Too expensive (massive markups on what should be a standardized service)
* Too incompetent (One PEO sent us a contract for a Canadian employee that assigned their IP in accordance with US law. It's facepalm-bad sometimes).
This is welcome the USA government because they know these companies help us achieve compliance better than we could on our own. JustWorks has been great, but only employs people in the USA. When we want to employ someone outside the USA, we therefore need to find a "global PEO." These companies are sometimes called "Employers of Record."
Popular Global PEOs are:
- Globalization Partners
- Elements Global
- Capital GES
- Lots more.
But it's a highly fragmented market and has been a pain to engage.
I remember in the 1950s, there was a Popular Mechanics cover touting nuclear as a coming technology to power homes and even cars.
Imagine the next Tesla-like company offering to install a small nuclear reactor in houses. Like solar, you can sell electricity back to the grid, charge your electric car with it, literally use it to heat your water....
Also might be a very attractive option to going off-grid.
Even ultra cost efficient full scale powerplants are a money losing proposition without huge subsidies. They are being squeezed between extremely cheap renewables, low cost natural gas, and rapidly advancing storage technology.
Which is why nuclear was 17.6% of global electricity generation in the late 90’s but has fallen to 10% in 2019.
This is true and fully agreed. Home reactors are not really feasible or even a good idea.
>Even ultra cost efficient full scale powerplants are a money losing proposition without huge subsidies. They are being squeezed between extremely cheap renewables, low cost natural gas, and rapidly advancing storage technology.
Plants are expensive due to the regulation and insurance making them that way. Safety with nuclear is obviously paramount, but political and social pressure has expanded a lot of the requirements to quite a high degree. Additionally, renewable are also subsidized quite a lot and are not always viable in all locales. Storage tech is good for all forms of power generation.
>Which is why nuclear was 17.6% of global electricity generation in the late 90’s but has fallen to 10% in 2019.
Nuclear also has a lot of fearmongering and red tape around it. Plants are reaching their EOL and in many cases new ones are not being built due to the cost of getting through all the red tape (getting approval from the feds down to local government, dealing with inevitable NIMBY lawsuits, etc). Renewables are the future, but we aren't fully in the future yet.
This is a common trope.
I can't work out where you live, but I do often see this line of reasoning put forward by residents of the USA, who overlook the fact that 'the feds' don't regulate what happens in the other 95% of the planet, and yet other parts of the world are equally disinterested in building more nuclear fission plants.
It may be that the problems -- federal / national governments red tape, NIMBY lawsuits, local gov / state gov / provinces / councils, 'fearmongering', etc -- are common and similar everywhere, but this seems prima facie unlikely, certainly not demonstrated.
Ontario sits at about 2/3 nuclear. We have for a long time. And our electricity is relatively cheap.
But -- and thanks for the link, it's fascinating -- diving into that page raises some questions. The nuclear component is very steady at 11MW, which I suppose is a function of the technology, to provide a reliable base load.
Nuclear fission accounts for 12MW -- while Hydro seems to consistently provide about a third that figure, with wind averaging just over 1MW, but peaking up to 4MW.
Canada has 19 nuclear fission power plants, with all but one being in Ontario.
Seemingly  several were / will be shutdown, as refurbishment is too expensive, and no plans to construct new plants in the province.
Storage of spent fuel is expected to cost ~$30B ... but that project hasn't found a site yet, and that's a projected figure circa 2005.
But we don't have enough hydro-battery storage to allow for solar and wind to provide our base load. That's where nuclear shines, and why Ontario uses it so much.
Until we can come up with a way to store something like a week's worth of power, it's going to be very difficult to ever phase out of nuclear. But given how clean nuclear is compared to the alternative base-load energy sources (gas, coal, etc), I think that's just fine.
In the end Ontario is in an unusual situation that stops working as the rest of Canada scales either nuclear or wind power. It’s working for them and their electricity is mostly carbon neutral, it just does not scale.
PS: That’s not to say nuclear can’t scale to 100%, nuclear subs make it work with wildly swinging demand. However, low capacity factor directly results in higher costs.
Given 10-15 years ago there were very definite plans to build new plants, but these  all appear to have lapsed or been deferred indefinitely, this further supports my original point -- even seemingly enlightened & pro-nuclear societies / governments are pulling back on their nuclear fission build-out plans.
France generation is over 70% nuclear power, but in 2018 exported 86.3 TWh mostly nuclear and imported 26TWh mostly non nuclear. So they actually use less than 70% nuclear power. This is important because of how hard it is to match nuclear generation with demand resulting in a 77% capacity factor vs ~90% in the US nuclear industry even with all those exports.
In other words they built enough nuclear to cover well over 80% of demand, but only use ~60% internally.
They are also looking to significantly reduce nuclear production. Closing up to 17 reactors by 2025. https://www.france24.com/en/20170710-france-hulot-could-clos...
As I understand it, the bulk of their reactors were produced over a relatively short boom period of construction, and their projected EOL's were consequently going to coincide -- the number of safety incidents, ageing designs, costs of attending to both, public opinion swaying against, resulted in the relatively recent decisions to try to reduce the reliance on fission.
But, even so, this speaks to my point -- in countries with a positive history of nuclear fission, and little 'red tape' to stall new builds, they're still moving away from it.
My point was and remains that USA federal government hoops around building out new nuclear fission plants can not explain the dearth of new nuclear fission plants being built everywhere else.
Canada was cited elsewhere in this thread as pro nuclear fission plants -- but they've deferred all plans to build new plants.
France is the really obvious big proponent, but their recent experiences (building Flamanville in FR, involvement in Hinkley in the UK) suggest there is more complexity here than can be addressed by complaints that 'The USA government has red tape'.
The Small Modular Reactor hypothesis is that economies of mass production could conceptually be built that overpower economies of scale. The small reactors of the past, including the ML-1 truck-mounted military microreactor were 10x too expensive even for the military in remote areas. Just building a few small reactors is a losing proposition. If you can get them to "go viral" before they've achieved economic parity, then there's a chance. That will only happen if you successfully market their 24/7 very-low-carbon, very-low land, very-low raw material footprints.
I think for climage change purposes, we should focus on getting costs down on 500-1000 MWe plants. If it takes another round of small prototype non-LWR reactors to get there, then so be it. But large stations are what will displace most of the 84% of the world's energy that is fossil fueled.
Regarding the competition, low-cost fracked natural gas has been deadly to nuclear. I don't think most people realize that fracked natural gas, while great in the deadly air pollution department, is just as bad as coal in the climate change department (when you factor in the methane leaks from wells and pipelines). So if markets can price carbon emissions, natural gas can be ruled out. If not, natural gas will continue to drive nuclear plants to closure and then replace them.
Extremely cheap renewables are a friendly competition to nuclear in that if they're successful, the goals of the nuclear proponents are met: clean, plentiful, cheap energy 24/7. At the moment, the major issues of land use, raw material use, and intermittency are not causing much trouble for renewables. But as they scale up they may encounter more difficulties. All energy sources experience new troubles and regulations as they scale. Coal got scrubbers and filters (doubling+ capital costs), nuclear got the NRC, solar in California recently ran into NIMBY in San Bernardino county desert. Will that continue to get worse? Or are the positive attributes of renewables so good that people will continue to embrace at scale? I honestly don't know. I keep working on nuclear because it's a good high-density resource.
TL;DR: Include carbon-free as valuable in markets and nuclear would do great.
Today’s modern reactors are night and day compared to Chernobyl/Fukushima era reactors - they’re not even comparable. They’re fail-safe rather than fail-deadly, and are much more compact and efficient, with better controls and containment. The size of the reaction chamber is basically that of a household washing machine.
I’d gladly live next door to a modern plant.
I'm in the middle of writing an elaborate history of the quest for economical nuclear power to help with this discussion.
I don't know much about reactor design, but I don't think I'd live next door to a fail-safe plant, but please correct me if I'm misguided because.
Fail-safe just means that if equipment breaks or a human does something wrong, the plant goes to low power and passive natural-circulation systems kick-in that keep the low-power shutdown mode from going to temperatures high enough to break the radiation containment structures.
Recall that coal plants and oil emissions kill 4-6 million people per year from air pollution. Nuclear plants are crazy safe compared to that. And while natural gas is safe from an air pollution POV, the hazards of climate change from it are potentially large. Nuclear reactors are essentially carbon-free.